By Samantha Lande, BCB Staff Writer
Welcome to Wonder Woman Wednesday, a weekly feature that will attempt to tackle the question we are frequently asked— “how do moms really do it all?” Each week we will feature an amazing mom with extraordinary abilities. From founders of some of the most successful companies to philanthropists who are changing the world, these women are true heroines. To thank them for lifting the cape on some of their super powers, we will make a donation to the charity of their choice.
NAME: Kathleen Henson
KIDS: Emily (15), John Henry (14), Haley (12), Brady (9), Finley (6)
OCCUPATION: Founder & CEO, Henson Consulting (a nationally-recognized boutique PR firm)
LIVE: Chicago, IL
FAVORITE CHARITY: Joffrey Women’s Board and Breakthrough Urban Ministries
Kathleen Henson had the same thoughts many of us do post-baby. Great job…but I feel different…now what? She took a chance and left a very well known public relations firm to start her own boutique firm, Henson Consulting, that has been around for 14 years and boasts an impressive client roster that has included everything from Navy Pier to Lettuce Entertain You, Ronald McDonald House to Crystal Light. Oh, and she also has five kids! But perhaps what is most impressive about Henson is that she has found a way to be so happy with both her home and work life and makes it her goal to help others achieve that as well. (In fact she was just on the Today Show talking about that topic.) Kathleen tells us about her secret double agent life, how she gives back and who makes up her “village.”
What is your backstory?
I was a senior leader at one of the world’s leading PR firms and had a baby and it totally changed the way I viewed myself and I wanted to ensure that had my priorities in order. It was a pivotal moment in my life and my career. I’m thankful that I now have a place where I can be a role model to other female leaders coming up the ranks to allow them to focus on their authentic selves –being exactly who they are supposed to be. I believe if you have joy outside of work (for me being a mom and a wife!), you bring that joy to the clients you serve. Each of the talented individuals who work at HC are allowed to be themselves and are celebrated for their individuality. We have moms, pet lovers, newly engaged, travelers, runners, etc.
Tell us about your typical weekday:
No day is ever the same in public relations. One day I’m co-hosting a high-profile event for United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council or running to a client meeting, the other I’m headed to NYC or LA for a celebrity event or taking an editor out to lunch at one of the city’s hottest restaurants we represent. I love the excitement and I am always on the go, go, go!
Tell us about a “save the day moment”:
My biggest moment was creating HC out of my basement in January 2001 as a way to become a great mom first, then hopefully a great PR person second. This little agency of one person has grown into an agency of more than 30 people over these past 14 years. I always wanted to put my title of Wife & Mom before PR Leader – but I’m thankful that I get to do both!
How do you protect (and give back to) your community? Giving back is VERY important to me and I support a number of great causes in this city including sitting on the Board of Directors of Breakthrough Urban Ministries and the Joffrey Women’s Board. I co-chair the United Way’s Women’s Leadership Council, support A Better Chicago and my agency supports/manages PR for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana and Chicago Scholars. I created a division of my company, HC3, in 2011 that focuses on the triple bottom line – helping companies reach people, to allow their organizations profit and leave the planet a better place!
What is your super power?
I know that God has a plan for my day so I just focus on being excellent in every moment and giving myself the grace to know it always turns out OK even if it doesn’t turnout exactly how you imagined it.
If you could have a secret identity what would it be and what would you use it for?
I joke all the time I life a double life…I have my downtown PR agency CEO life and my suburban Wheaton mom life…and I love them both. So I guess I would say, I’d be a Secret Double Agent.
What is your arch nemesis?
Time. I just wish I had more time. But boy do I cram a lot into every single day! I was born on June 21 (summer solstice – longest day of the year) so I think I was born to pack the most into each day and live each day to the fullest.
What is in your Wonder Woman power pack?
iPhone, notebook, lipgloss, great pair of shoes, good attitude
Who is your Sidekick/Partner in Crime?
I have two – my incredible husband of 18 years, Mike Henson, who allows me to be “me” and loves me no matter what…and my amazing office manager and personal assistant of 9 years, Carol Singerman. Without these two, I couldn’t be me! I also am indebted for life to my nanny Kat Stecker who is a loving force at my house to keep things moving smoothly until Mike and I get home! It takes a village!
What would you consider your theme song?
“Happy” by Pharell Williams
Which Superhero do you most identify with and why?
Superwoman for sure – she was strong and she knew how to save the day – and she always looked fabulous doing it!
To thank Kathleen for her time we will make a donation to the Women’s Board Tribute Fund of the Joffrey Ballet.